April 8, 2009

Happy Hour: Clover Club Cocktail (The Remixes)

by Payman Bahmani

During a picnic this past Sunday, a friend of mine asked me to recommend “the best cocktail I probably haven’t heard of.” Not being able to give it too much thought (as I was operating under the duress of trying to resuscitate the charcoals on the grill), I hastily recommended a Corpse Reviver or Corpse Reviver #2. Later that evening, upon returning home from the picnic and after having the opportunity to apply more effective mind power to the issue, I wanted to change my recommendation. Corpse Revivers are great of course (especially the #2), but if I had to offer only one suggestion to someone not as steeped in mixological culture as myself, I think there’s an even more apropos choice: the Clover Club Cocktail.

I gave the Clover Club Cocktail the slight edge for its combination of simplicity, pleasance on the palate, and intriguing history (a common trifecta among classic cocktails). Also, it is one of those rare cocktails whose flavor profile fits so well with modern tastes that it seems like an invention from this very decade. And although it is a drink whose hey-day has come and gone, the recent revival of cocktail culture may signal its rejoiceful return.

Written references to the Clover Club Cocktail date as far back as 1911, though the drink’s inception could certainly reach back even further. The cocktail originated at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia, where members of the legendary Clover Club gathered to discuss whatever it is that captains of industry discussed at the time; and the Clover Club Cocktail was their apparent beverage of choice. I won’t delve into the cocktail’s full history here, but I urge you all to read Paul Clarke’s fascinating piece on the drink’s rise and fall from popularity.

The Clover Club Cocktail has spawned many a variation over the years, and even the original recipe itself has undergone numerous adjustments in order to suit society’s ever-evolving palate. For example, depending upon one’s historical text of favor, the recipe either calls for grenadine or raspberry syrup as primary sweetening agent.

My favored bible of imbibing (imbible?) happens to be The Savoy Cocktail Book, originally published in 1930 by the Savoy Hotel of London, and contains recipes compiled by the legendary Harry Craddock. Below is the recipe for the Clover Club Cocktail exactly as it appeared in Savoy. In addition, I will show you how to make a couple of variations: the Royal Clover Club and the Bitter Clover Leaf–the former being a classic in its own right and the latter being a creation of mine made specially for this month’s Mixology Monday theme, “Superior Twists.”

Clover Club Cocktail (from The Savoy Cocktail Book)
Juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
1/3 grenadine (1 part)
2/3 dry gin (2 parts)
1 egg white

Tools: shaker, strainer
Glass: cocktail or coupe

Place all ingredients in cocktail shaker along with ice. Shake well and strain into glass. Another common recipe with measurements that are more conducive to modern measuring tools can be found on cocktaildb.

Two quick notes on the use of raw eggs in cocktails: 1) There’s nothing to worry about as long as you use fresh eggs from a reliable source. I used fresh organic brown eggs. 2) When using egg whites in cocktail recipes, I prefer to do a dry shake (shake egg white by itself) first for 30 seconds to 1 minute in order to really froth the white, before adding the remaining ingredients and shaking again.

The Royal Clover Club is a variation of the Clover Club Cocktail that is a classic itself, and is also found among the original recipes published in the Savoy. The only difference is that the recipe calls for an egg yolk instead of an egg white. Of course this produces a slightly different flavor as well, subtly reminiscent of an orange creamsicle. Below is the recipe for a Royal Clover Club.

Royal Clover Club
1 1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz grenadine
1 egg yolk
Tools: shaker, strainer
Glass: coupe

Place all ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Strain in chilled glass and enjoy.

And now on to this month’s MxMo, hosted by The Wild Drink Blog. The theme for this month is “Superior Twists,” which urges us to put a twist on a classic cocktail. Accordingly, I offer to you the Bitter Clover Leaf, which puts a much needed twist on an uninspired variation of the Clover Club Cocktail called the Clover Leaf–a twist on a twist, or double twist, if you will. The Clover Leaf is a prime candidate for revamping because it was essentially a Clover Club Cocktail with a mint sprig added for garnish, and nothing more. My twist on the Clover Leaf goes further by switching a mixed berry simple syrup for the grenadine and adding dry vermouth and mint bitters for greater depth.

Bitter Clover Leaf
1 1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz berry simple syrup
1 egg white
2 dashes Fee Brothers Mint Bitters
1 mint leaf for garnish

Tools: shaker, strainer
Glass: coupe

Place egg white in shaker and dry shake for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add ice and remaining ingredients and shake again for another 10-15 seconds. Strain in chilled glass and garnish with mint leaf.

There you have it. The best cocktails you’ve probably never heard of, until now. Cheers!

Check out the rest of the “Superior Twists” from this month’s MxMo here.

Come back every Wednesday for Paystyle’s weekly Happy Hour column.

Photography by Vanessa Bahmani.

6 Comments

  • Vanessa Bahmani
    Posted April 8, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    I’m not a fan of egg in my drinks but the Clover Club Cocktail and Bitter Clover Leaf were Amazing!

  • erik_flannestad
    Posted April 12, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    Not being a huge fan of Fee’s Mint Bitters, I might go with a dash of creme de menthe instead.

    I will note that some early recipes for the Clover Club do include Dry Vermouth, (though those same recipes often omit the lemon). Also other author’s recipes for the Clover Leaf include mint leaves in the tin with the other ingredients, not just as a garnish.

    Lastly, the type of red colored syrup used in the Clover Club in most recipe books prior to the Savoy Cocktail Book is raspberry syrup. Either Syrup is fine with me, and which works better depends a bit on which Gin you use. Heck, I’m tempted to try Olallieberry.

  • Paystyle
    Posted April 13, 2009 at 8:06 am

    Erik, thanks for reading and commenting. Creme de menthe is an interesting choice, and will have to try that soon. Although I still like the light background flavor of bitter & mint that the mint bitters added while still maintaining the integrity of the original Clover Club Cocktail.

    Do you happen to know whether the original Clover Club in Philly used raspberry syrup or grenadine? The bartender at the (new) Clover Club bar in Brooklyn said that grenadine was the choice across the Atlantic (hence the Savoy's usage), while recipes in the states called for raspberry syrup. I wonder if you can confirm this.

  • erik_flannestad
    Posted April 13, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Paystyle, I’m gonna have to double check. It seems to me that Robert Vermeire, a Dutch bartender who worked in France and England in the early 20th Century, calls for Raspberry Syrup in the Clover Club, so generalizing that all bartenders “across the Atlantic” preferred Grenadine might be overstating it a bit.

    As far as older recipes go, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a pre-prohibition recipe for the Clover Club which called for grenadine.

  • Captain Mc Boozy
    Posted April 15, 2009 at 6:11 am

    I also use raspberry syrup in my clover club, but then again I use sweet and dry vermouth as well.

    Great idea about using the heretofore useless mint bitters – it’s a nice touch!

    Here’s a post I did a while ago about the CC:

    http://captainmcboozy.wordpress.com/2009/03/22/the-clover-club-cocktail/

    Best,

    Dave

  • Paystyle
    Posted April 20, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Captain – I enjoyed reading your post on the CC–a very funny and interesting blog overall. I also like the mint bitters b/c they’re different. Once the weather warms up a bit more I’m going to try some in a mojito variation.

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*